Dice math – Part II: Dice pools

In part 1, I covered some properties of a linear dice mechanic using d20 system as an example. Another very common mechanic is the dice pool. The basic idea is that the player rolls multiple similar dice and counts the number of dice that have result equal to or greater than a target number. The number of ‘hits’ is then the result of the roll. Games that use it are numerous: Shadowrun, World of Darkness, Burning wheel, Warhammer (the miniature game!). For example, in Shadowrun, the dice are d6s and the target number is five. So rolling 7 dice and getting numbers 2,3,3,5,6,1,4 would result in two hits. Sometimes there are additional complications, like exploding dice, re-rolls or botches. I’ll cover these on a separate post. The next part is going to be a little math heavy.

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